Urban Montage in Blok and Guro: from Baudelaire to Eisenstein

Milica Banjanin, Washington University

The focus of my paper is on how the sequences of walking and seeing in the city, developing out of the postures of Baudelaire's flaneur, are transmuted in the work of Blok and Guro into moving, cinematic frames that both reflect and generate a new way of being in the world. The Eisensteinian concept of montage in film that allows "two signifying elements" as scenes to collide in a juxtaposition that induces a meaning unavailable to sequential and progressive scenes of Baudelaire, gives access in Blok to an inner vision from spectacle and connection between the erotics of personal and national history. By placing her female flaneur in whom active seeing becomes a mode of telling, Guro evokes a sexual politics of looking.

Both Blok and Guro frame a dynamic struggle, an anxious interplay of subjectivity and objectivity helping the reader to visualize and gain insight into the author's self and scene. At stake is a new way of reconfiguring the poetic medium that makes of the manner of seeing a mode of telling with a hidden and suggestive psychological and philosophical transforming power characteristic of the best modernists.

In Guro's case, we have the most deliberate sense of cinematic assemblage of material that produces a new dimension because the "eye taking a walk," the mise en scene of the eye, its gaze as a camera, evokes a new way of connecting the constant marriage in art of aesthetic excitement and the harsh truths of reality, here as modern world as city. The still or sequential life of the street in both authors provoked a moving register of modern seeing in montage that reflects the complexity and rich insecurity of our passage into the 20th century.